Campaigns. The holy grail for many Wargamers.
Many will tell you campaigns NEVER work out. People drop out, it goes on too long and outstays its welcome, it’s too complicated……….
Like moths to a flame, there’s always one more version to try.
This Blog represents a personal journey to create a platform that my local gaming acquaintances might find useful and interesting.
The challenge is simple: Can I create a plausible set of historical circumstances where a wide variety of different late 19th Century armies can face each other across the tabletop. There needs to be some purpose to the exercise, some narrative that does not require a lot of input from specific participants on an ongoing basis.
The games have to be simple, fast and … most importantly….. be fun!
I’m in the happy position of only doing this for my own benefit. A large part of me believes no one will be interested in this other than me!
The rules of choice right now are Bloody Big Battles by Chris Pringle.
The author’s blog is here
The active yahoogroup for the rules is here
Figures of choice are 6mm from Baccus Miniatures
A large part of the alternative history was based around fitting in the various figure ranges available from Baccus.
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I built up a sizeable collection of Union and Confederate 6mm ACW forces. My intention was to refight Gettysburg for my 50th Birthday a few years back. I’m well aware of how sad that sounds… however.. if you are reading this far, I’m guessing there’s a good chance you’re probably just as sad!
Since I couldn’t find rules that would let me fight the whole battle with 14 players in the one day, I wrote my own. (I tried to use Fire n Fury, I really did.) My homebrew rules worked OK and (I think) caught the flavour of the period. People who knew more about the ACW than I do kept coming back to play, so the rules can’t have been that bad.
Next step, Franco-Prussian war. Like most wargamers my interests are eclectic and quite often cyclical. There is always space for a new project.
I started with an Imperial French Army pack from Baccus Link . Initially, I fully expected to tweak my homebrew rules… then I discovered Bloody Big Battles. (BBB for short.) Very quickly I appreciated the elegance and subtlety of the rules.
Next addition was an Army Pack of Prussians.
As a general rule, if I have a new project I try to provide enough figures for everyone who wants to play in our group. If anyone is inspired to go out and buy something different of their own that’s great. Encouraging buy-in to a new period/genre/scale is a lot easier if it doesn’t cost anything.
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Next step was to create somewhere to fight where the many armies could conceivably make contact with each other. If this was going to work it couldn’t be a simple map campaign where; Player A wanted to fight Player B but couldn’t because Player C held territory in the way. Like most groups, our band of gamers could never consistently get together whenever it suited specific campaign encounters. It had to be a ‘drop-in-and- play’ arrangement. I toyed with having two ‘factions’ on the basis that folks from each faction would likely turn up on the same night. Even that seemed strained because it limited opponent armies to those in the opposition faction.
It couldn’t be any arrangement where folks who turned up more often had a runaway advantage because of their extra experience. (Who hasn’t taken part in a campaign of some sort where they’ve been crushed by an unbeatable force belonging to the guy who’d been turning up every week.)
I came to the conclusion I would do something with a narrative background. This way, the ‘story’ would go on, even if few participated. (Worst case.)
So far, so good
Initially, I’d assumed it would take part in central Europe and basically end up with everybody against Prussia. I wanted to use all the ACW figures I had, so I started thinking how they could be incorporated into a 1871 European conflict.
The more I looked into the history the more I realised there was a plausible way to put the American Civil War on hiatus around 1863 until a resumption of hostilities in 1871. Having done this, there were a number of ‘consequentials’ resulting from the small changes I made to real history. These led in turn to the inescapable conclusion that the central part of North America was the best place to host the campaign.
I did make one startling discovery. If you have an interest in history, I’ve found the process of creating an alternative history has forced me to gain a better insight into the real history than I could ever have gained from passively absorbing the content.
Lastly: This exercise is for fun. My sincere hope is that the effort helps to facilitate more of the Good Times in Good Company that this hobby has provided me with.